Written by Jill Morrison
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The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It is responsible for administering and enforcing sanctions against targets such as foreign countries, terrorists, narcotics traffickers, and people helping to generate weapons of mass destruction. Since September 11, 2001, it has become more important to comply thoroughly with OFAC regulations.

Requirements of OFAC

Two separate lists are maintained and published by this group. They strive to deny terrorist organizations access to the international financial system. They also work to impair the ability of terrorists to raise funds. Financial institutions and those doing any commerce are subject to OFAC regulations. The lists are published and distributed bi-weekly.

Financial institutions must check the watch lists against their databases to find any matches. If matches do occur, they must be reported immediately. The SDN List has names and descriptions of individuals who pose a threat to interests and security of the United States. The Blocked Countries List alerts businesses that they may be involved in commerce with blocked countries.

Compliance with OFAC requirements may be accomplished manually or by an automated system. Computer software solutions are available to greatly reduce time spent maintaining and checking records. Some of the features are checking customer databases against lists and providing instant results, guarding against false matches, and the capability to add other government lists to the program.

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